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Topic: Winter camping - first time, Looking for advice on my sleep system< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 1:50 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am doing some winter camping - first time since I was a kid. I have much better gear now, but not a single sleeping bag suitable for the temperatures I will encounter. Temperatures will vary from 20 F during the day to -5 F at night. Hopefully not colder, but could happen.

It will be car camping, staying in tents or maybe a quinzee if there's enough snow. Day hikes/snow shoeing. So weight and space isn't a concern, but I want to try and see what proper backcountry gear will work for the conditions so next time we can do some backcountry winter camping.

My warmest bag is a marmot helium 15 bag. I planned to use my rectangular 30* synthetic bag as a quilt overtop. It is heavier though (a bit over 3 lbs) so is there concern of this compressing the down in my marmot bag? I have another 20* down mummy bag I could use as a quilt but concerned it won't cover or stay on me as well during the night as it is a mummy shape. I'll bring an extra blanket just in case.

For pads I will be using my thermarest prolite (R=3.8) and z-lite (r=2.2) combined. I am also bringing an old rag-wool blanket that i might throw folded in half overtop of the pads to help if that's not good enough.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 2:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, there is a concern in regards to compressing the down. I've done tests with down and synthetic bags in winter and there was significant compression when layering over down.

Otherwise, your setup looks to be plenty enough for those temps.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 3:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You were doing good until you mentioned "car camping" and I lost interest.  Why?  Because with a car any amount of bulk in warmth can be carried so you can use 3 or 4 old bags on top of each other.  EX:  Army feather bag with a Marmot, etc etc.  Sandwich them, quilt them, whatever works.

For backpacking purposes in those temps I'd get a down bag in the -15F range.  It's not overkill when you're sitting in a tent at 0F.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 3:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tigger - yeah, that's what I thought. Oh well, I'm sure it will work out fine one way or another. I'll try two down bags and see how it goes.


Tipi -
The idea here is to have a relaxed weekend that will allow us to field test our existing gear for winter backcountry excursions. Most of my backcountry camping has been in the shoulder seasons where temps regularly drop to 15-20 F overnight, so in terms of air temperatures I have a good sense of my limits. But with colder ground temps and temperatures below freezing during the day too it is a different experience of course. I am on a limited budget and can't afford a -15F bag, so if I do end up doing winter backcountry camping I'll probably need to bring two bags.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 4:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have been experimenting with a quilt over a bag a lot this winter. They have been down on down though. I would give it a try and see if the down is compressed too much. If you have it opened quilt-like with just the foot of the synthetic over the foot of the Marmot, then the body draped, it should be OK.

They actually stay in place pretty good. Here is a 40 F quilt on a 10 F bag that I had at -22 F last week. It was forecast to only be -10 or I would have had a 30 F quilt to layer. Surprise!


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 5:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Layering is what we all did back in the '70's and '80's when we were dirt poor but wanted to sleep in the mountains during January and February.  I carried the mentioned Army feather bag along with a top of the line North Face down bag and the weight and bulk got me to -15F no problem.  

Problem?  Weight and bulk.

Then when we got some cash we went for the best down bag we could find, which in the mid '80's was Marmot.  Now I prefer Western Mountaineering like a Puma, etc.  With cash comes warmth but not much weight and no bulk.

Cash strapped folks won't like this next comment, but if you really want to stay warm in the winter, get an Exped Downmat 9.  It's been my go-to stand-alone winter pad for the last 3 years and IT IS WARM.  Heck, you're sleeping on tubes full of 800 fill goose down.  Problem?  The dang thing is getting more and more expensive retail-wise month by month.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 5:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks all for good info.

Ray - thanks for that picture and setup info. I think if you ever make a musical album - or perhaps pen a book on backpacking - you should call it "down on down". ;)

We'll be using a 3 season tent  but it has little mesh (except on the ceiling) and solid walls, so that will help trap a bit of heat and still provide some venting.

Tipi - I remember looking at the price of those Exped Downmat 9 a while ago thinking they were expensive. Looked again and I swear they're almost $100 more than they were a couple of years ago. Crazy.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 5:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As you can see I am using a NeoAir XTherm Smokey. I use it alone to 0 F then when it is lower I add the ZLite under it. The DownMat 9 is a lot warmer at an r-value of 8.

Here is a 30 F quilt over the same bag. I took this setup to -24 F and was actually hot inside.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 7:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sweet! Nice setup. If that's good to -14F for you than chances are my marmot helium with another 20* down bag (REI mojave 15). opened over as a quilt should be pretty good. I can be pretty dressed underneath of course.

My greatest aggravation is that my pads are only 20" wide. It's nice to have the lower weight, and I am not a wide guy, but I always find my feet tilt off to the side at night off the pad and I'll sometimes wake up with cool feet on cold nights.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 9:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Smokey Bear
Set up your 15f bag and then lay on top the other one quilt fashion and see how much compression you get.
Probably not that much.
The other weapon you probably have is puffy clothing.
If the 15f bag has a bit of room, wear those to boost your system.
Have a dry clean underlayer.
(again try this at home. Surprisingly to some , your sleeping bag/quilt/clothing are of the exact same size at home as they are in the bush)
In this case you have a 3 layer system that you can thermoregulate pretty fast.
don't forget your head and feet...
Make sure you do not sweat inside it...
Ray
Nice kit. I had a play recently with two Xtherm (I put some anti skid stripes on them ) I am thinking that it will take the place of my DW7
How do you inflat it ?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 9:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have been pretty impressed by how warm they can be without actual insulation. I inflate it with the Microburst.

This is from the same day as that last picture. I just start it inflating as I finish unloading my pack and getting stuff situated.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 10:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks
Can't comment on warmth but reports are positive.
I compared the folded size and weight against the Exped DM 7 .
That was impressive.
(I used the Instaflator but I just blow up my Neo Air by mouth in the bush...)
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 10:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It is interesting that you still use a inflatable pad in the winter. My BA IAC states that it is not good below +15. So I have been using those old blue foam pads. I may have to give my pad a try next time.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 11:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(IAJeff @ Feb. 08 2013, 10:28 pm)
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It is interesting that you still use a inflatable pad in the winter. My BA IAC states that it is not good below +15. So I have been using those old blue foam pads. I may have to give my pad a try next time.

Take it plus one of those blue foam pads, and it'll work fine.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 6:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(IAJeff @ Feb. 08 2013, 9:28 pm)
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It is interesting that you still use a inflatable pad in the winter. My BA IAC states that it is not good below +15. So I have been using those old blue foam pads. I may have to give my pad a try next time.

Until lately I did not bring anything but an inflatable, but they have had r-values of between 4.9 and 10. I just started bringing the ZLite as a back-up for most days, and as an additive for the XTherm on the extreme cold days.

Like AT said, you can add a foam pad on top (in the IAC's case) of your IAC to take it down into winter temps. That is what their Dual Core pad is.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 7:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you're car camping then don't forget the tent heater.....

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 9:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Exped downmats were designed for temps down to -40F so logically they're designed for subzero temps.  But as anyone who has used inflatables knows, they can spring a leak at the worst time.  Or they can delaminate whereby a big bubble forms on the outside---not good and crappy, actually.  I don't know if the Expeds can do this but Thermarests sure can.

Beyond this, I always carry an emergency cache of a spare pad (now it's a NeoAir All Season) rolled up tight and covered with several garbage bags and cached in the area I will be backpacking.  SO if I have a blowout somewhere in the Cohutta or the Citico or the Slickrock or Mt Rogers or Pisgah I can swing back and pick up my pad.  Of course over the last 12 years I've had two stashed pads discovered by bears and ripped to shreds.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 11:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Since we're talking about pads (in case a newbie is reading this post), I feel obligated to state that I will always recommend that anyone who camps on snow or ice should bring a closed-cell foam mattress as backup along with their other mattress in case of catastrophic failure even if their primary mattress is rated for the temps. The weight and bulk penalty is worth it. I've witnessed what it's like to deal with this situation firsthand. A closed cell mattress can't fail.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 12:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, I've always thought of snow camping as a fight for survival I have done it several times in Alaska and Wyoming. I made my system to suit my needs I used an ultralight down mummy inside my North Face Rabbit's Foot Polarguard  sleeping bag. Now you'll need a Vapor Barrier Liner or VBL.

So now you have a bag for all seasons. The down bag fit inside the Polarguard bag to give you warmth and the comfort that comes when your bag doesn't compress. The bags could be used in most any temperature since I prefer polarguard because it resists damp environments. The bag will form a coating of ice on it and your sweat will soak your bags as you perspire in them. The VBL is simply a waterproof airtight bag liner made of a coated material or whatnot. Then you don't end up with wet bags, but you sleep in your sweat.

You can look up Vapor Barrier Liners on Google or go to Stephenson Warmlite Equipment for an explanation. BTW, "Stephenson makes the lightest tents, period." I owned a 4 season 2 man tent at 3 pounds and 3 ounces. The quote is from a Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide.

The sleeping part will keep you OK, now you said car-camping so you many options.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 1:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

wow ;-)

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 2:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My prolite has been holding air well, I baby it and haven't used it all that much honestly. But I'll have my z-lite under it anyway just in case.

I vary between overheating and being too cold, so this will definitely be a test of learning how to be adaptable with heating systems. I get a kick out of envisioning the thermodynamic processes involved.

Franco - good calls. I definitely plan to test this at home first, just haven't had a good chance yet. There's definitely space for layers in my Marmot Helium, it's a roomier bag compared with my REI bags - wider at the shoulders at least.

Uberman

I don't think I'll need a VBL, or I hope not anyway. It's not going to be that cold or that long (3 nights) for the perspiration to build up enough in the bag.  I'm toying with the idea of a cotton bag liner to help soak up excess perspiration that can be hung during the day to dry (in the sun it should dry out if not too damp).
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 5:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good luck with the drying cotton liner in freezing temps thing. I have hung out a silk liner that dampened during the night in direct sunlight with heavy winds and it still never dried out. It just turned into an icicle and stayed that way.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 8:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 09 2013, 2:50 pm)
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My prolite has been holding air well, I baby it and haven't used it all that much honestly. But I'll have my z-lite under it anyway just in case.

I always use my zlite on top.  It warmer that way.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 8:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rayestrella @ Feb. 09 2013, 6:35 am)
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(IAJeff @ Feb. 08 2013, 9:28 pm)
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It is interesting that you still use a inflatable pad in the winter. My BA IAC states that it is not good below +15. So I have been using those old blue foam pads. I may have to give my pad a try next time.

Until lately I did not bring anything but an inflatable, but they have had r-values of between 4.9 and 10. I just started bringing the ZLite as a back-up for most days, and as an additive for the XTherm on the extreme cold days.

Like AT said, you can add a foam pad on top (in the IAC's case) of your IAC to take it down into winter temps. That is what their Dual Core pad is.

Wouldn't you want the blue pad closest to the ground to protect the IAC?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 9:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you are using a closed cell pad to add r-value in winter you will get the most from it by putting it on top. In the case of the XTherm this is not the case due to its construction/atributes.

In 3-season I would use a foam pad for protection from stickers or pine needles, but in winter snow ain't going to hurt anything.

Smoky you won't sweat like crazy with your set-up. That guy was talking about with VBL's.  You should be able to control your heat. And I agree with Tigger. No cotton liner.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 11:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rayestrella @ Feb. 09 2013, 6:27 pm)
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If you are using a closed cell pad to add r-value in winter you will get the most from it by putting it on top.

+1  This is how we do it in winter.

Even with my Exped 7, I still use a closed cell on top to add to the R-values.  Snow is an infinite heat sink of 32 degrees that will suck the heat right out of you unless you're adequately insulated from it.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 11:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Okay, I'll put the z-lite on top and no cotton liner then. I find the prolite a little squishy anyway, I often overfill it (i.e. breathe into it) to make it more stiff because I prefer a firmer mattress.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 11 2013, 7:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

They were calling for 8-10 below Saturday night so I figured I set up in the yard and try my new MH Lamina -30.

I slept on a  Insul Max Thermo full and on top was my Ridgerest...of course I probably fell off it three times but I was still warm.

I do not think it got below zero based on my outside thermometer but all in all I was toasty.

Probably would have been  a great night to test Tigger's system..(Sorry Tigger, I do believe you I just keep whimping out!!)

Smokey, take a look at the MH Lamina -15...you can get it for under $130 at STP if you get their email...while not an insignificant amount of money it is a heck of a bargain for quality winter bag.  I am pretty impressed w/the -30 compressibility


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 11 2013, 10:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(wcolucci @ Feb. 11 2013, 4:34 am)
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Probably would have been  a great night to test Tigger's system..(Sorry Tigger, I do believe you I just keep whimping out!!)

I don't blame you. Even knowing it was working, it took me three years to let go of bringing my "real" winter bag. I kept waiting for my method to fail or something to go wrong that I overlooked.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 15 2013, 1:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Off tomorrow for this. I tried out my marmot helium with both my REI down mummy bag and my synthetic rectangular bag as a quilt overtop with the bottom slightly zipped. The rectangluar bag gets much better coverage, but does compress the down a scootch. HArdly at all though. The down bag as a quilt is definitely lighter and no compression to speak of, but it doesn't get quite as good coverage due to the hood design etc. I'll try both out and see, supposed to get down to about -5 F.

Looking forward to some snowshoeing and relaxing. Been a very stressful new year so far with work, I've only had a couple days off since christmas.
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